Saturday, March 1, 2014 Food Delivery Review

Hungry? Stuck at work? Too cozy to budge from home? Enter to the rescue. Man doesn't live on Domino's alone; so it makes sense to have as many options as possible, when ordering in. has over one million customers nationwide, choosing from a wide network of 10,000+ merchants (mostly restaurants, but also dry cleaners, groceries, wine & liquor, etc.)

Visit their website (or mobile app) enter your address, choose DELIVERY or PICK-UP, then click SEARCH. Presto, lists a ton of choices for every kind of cuisine imaginable. I live in Cleveland Park; but I can easily place an order for Clarendon Grill, IHOP or Whitlow's on Wilson! In a hurry? Pick something closer, but unique for delivery... BGR, Lebanese Taverna, even TGI Friday's.

Some deals are better than others. A lot of vendors charge assorted fees for delivery, ranging from $1 to $5.99; with several freebies mixed in. Keep an eye out for minimum orders ($10-25) and the occasional discount (Wingo's leaps to mind, often available for 20% off.) All in all, you can't beat the convenience of eyeing 100+ dining choices in one spot (even if you're still wearing your jammies.)

I love the advantage of scheduling an order for later in the day, tomorrow or even a week away. Not big on delivery? Pick-up is available too... perfect if you don't want to spend half your lunch hour "in line." Ordering is a snap: You can sort by Category, Cuisine, Payment, Rating or Source (Dr. Delivery,, Takeout Taxi, etc.) Delivery fees and hours are clearly listed, and menus/links to online ordering are just a click away. Glance at the top of your screen, and you'll notice a cool, new feature - Neighborhood Faves, which highlights top-trending dishes near your location.

We put to the test by ordering lunch and dinner from Epiphany Open Pit Beef and Subs and Churreria Madrid respectively, over the course of two different days. Here's how they stacked up...

Epiphany Open Pit Beef and Subs: Choices abound at this relatively new (August '12) Georgia Avenue BBQ. I rarely venture out to Petworth, so the ability to order in opened up a world of possibilities. My order went in (without a hitch) at 5:14 PM... Better Burger with fries ($9.45) 8-Pcs Mambo Wings ($7.95) and an Open Pit Dinner with 2 sides (cole slaw, corn muffin for $12.95.) Toss in a reasonable $2.75 delivery fee and tax, and my total climbed to $36.14. Ah, but not so fast - We found a coupon code for $7 off your first order (try, coupon values vary) so my final price came to $29.14 for an app & two dinners. Sounds good to me.

After two hours, I called the help line, and a helpful staffer agreed to reach out to the merchant on my behalf. Five minutes later, she came back to ask me to keep holding (turns out, Epiphany Open Pit Beef and Subs likes to make everyone wait.) After a total of 14 minutes on hold, and some confusion about speaking to the merchant directly (initially he wanted to talk to me, then changed his mind) I was told that the restaurant was trying to get in touch with their driver; and that I would be given a $15 credit to eat here again (fat chance.) The representative promised to follow up (she did) and apologized profusely. A few minutes later, the driver called me on my mobile phone: He was downstairs.

Said driver arrived at 7:35, two hours and 19 minutes after submitting my order online. I gave him a $5 cash tip (no thank you, no apology for taking so long) and brought the food upstairs for careful inspection. As you can imagine, the horror continued.

Better Burger with French Fries

For starters, each styrofoam container was sweating water (condensation.) All three dishes were cold to the touch, and even colder after consumption (not that there was much of that.) The Better Burger could have been a lot better... Cold, flimsy fries, a thick, hard bun and a frozen patty lost inside. The toppings were atrocious - Two, paper-thin slices of tomato, two tiny pickles and lettuce that was almost brown in color. Shocking, actually. As for taste... cold, flimsy fries tasted like cold, flimsy fries. All I could taste in the burger was bread, save a tiny amount of spice splashed atop the meat (probably an hour ago.) I asked for MEDIUM, but you can only imagine what happened to that request.

Open Pit Dinner

On to the Open Pit Dinner, which could easily swap "Open" for "bottom of the." A generous amount of beef (six slices) was ice cold and fatty, slathered in a thick, syrupy sauce that appeared to be tossed on after the fact. Gross. Cole slaw was pink/rose in color and tasted awful. Rose-colored cole slaw? The corn bread was overly sweet and cold, but I managed to swallow almost half of it down.

8-Pcs. Mambo Wings

I saved the worst for last: Mambo wings, drowned in what I can only assume was "mambo" sauce, whatever the heck that is. There was tons of it, and it overwhelmed the chickens with a thick, sugary paste that arrested my taste buds. The culinary equivalent of going to jail. Did I mention that the wings (and sugary coating) was also ice cold, like the rest of the "food?" At the bottom of the bag, I discovered a rock-hard roll wrapped in aluminum foil. Thanks.

Epiphany Open Pit Beef & Subs is a dump of the lowest order. A simple phone call saying they were in over their heads (assuming they were) could have at least prepared me for the disaster to follow. did all they could do to rectify the situation (including a bonus of 5,000 Delivery Points) but there's only so much a middle-man can do. This mess has one culprit, and it's far from an epiphany.


Churreria Madrid: Ordering from this Adams Morgan mainstay was a breeze: It took less than an hour (51 minutes) to receive our order of Huevos con Chorizo, Patatas Fritas y Pimientos Fritos (two fried eggs, Spanish sausage, french fries and fried green peppers for $10.95) Bocadillo de Chorizo (Spanish sausage sub for $7.50) and a dozen Churros for $3.50. Once again, Lady Luck was on our side... courtesy of an $8 off, Oscars promotion sent via email. This extra savings took our total down to $20.54, which includes tax and a 20% tip. Delivery was free.

Huevos con Chorizo

My phone rang at 9:16, and I went downstairs to exchange hellos with Churreria Madrid's friendly driver. Our food came wrapped securely in both a brown paper bag (stapled shut) inside a plastic bag with handles. Each entree looked appetizing, although both orders of fries were beginning to get soggy. Eggs transported perfectly in the Huevos con Chorizo... Still warm, and more importantly intact (not even a streak of running yolk.) Chorizo pieces were tiny and few in number (may I recommend thicker slices, and more of them?) Green peppers needed crunch, but brought color and flavor to the plate.

Bocadillo de Chorizo with French Fries

The Bocadillo de Chorizo was also conspicuously void of chorizo. It wouldn't be so noticeable, but the pieces are tiny to begin with (closer to pizza toppings actually.) As for flavor... not much. The sub roll was good quality (kaiser) but cold from the bag (heat 'em on the grill next time.) Fries were OK; but as I mentioned earlier, almost cold.

Thankfully, we had enough left over for dessert... which turned out to be the best part of our meal. I'm a big fan of churros, and these are top-notch. If you order them for carryout or delivery, be sure to pop them in the microwave for about 30 seconds. As is, they're still mighty tasty.

The order process was simple, delivery speedy and you can't argue with the price (even without the coupon.) The quality of food has nothing to do with; but it bears noting... I've had much better.

Grade: C-

Keep in mind, the grades are for each respective restaurant and not Ordering couldn't be easier; and to be honest, I was trying food from two new (to me) restaurants. My advice? Give a go; but stick with better known options... proven winners. Buca di Beppo, Italian Pizza Kitchen, Zorba's Cafe. Bottom line, if the food isn't very good... it doesn't matter how easy or fast it is to get it.